The TV Column Live

Feb 26, 2010

Post TV columnist Lisa de Moraes takes your questions about the drama, comedy and heartbreak of the world of television -- both onscreen and behind-the-scenes.

The Divine Ms. deM: I see NBC is advertising a "Law and Order" right after the Olympics on Monday. Is "L&O" switching days/times? If so, to what slot, and what will NBC be doing with Mon-Fri at 10pm, so Jay doesn't collapse and have to sell off a couple of his cars?

Yes! NBC has come up with its post-Games 10 o'clock "The Jay Leno Show" replacement schedule and it is as follows: Monday is "Law & Order: The Mothership." Tuesday -- it's best night thanks to "The Biggest Loser" (sigh) -- NBC is giving its best 10 timeslot to "Parenthood." Wednesday is "L&O:SVU," Thursday is Jerry Seinfeld's "The Marriage Ref" and Friday is "Dateline."

Pookie, sorry if you have explained this before, but can you please tell me how NBC has such great ratings with the Olympics and still loses money on them? Do the ratings only count towards future advertising rates, or do advertisers pay extra amts to NBC when the broadcast numbers hit certain thresholds? If the advertising rates are pre-fixed, then wouldn't the real beneficiary of these great Nielson numbers be the Olympics (for bidding on future rights) and not NBC? Thanks!

Usually that's another way of saying ad rates are down adn license fee is up...

When will the Olympics be over? When can I have my mindless sitcoms back? I am not entertained. And this might not be forum for this comment but who cares how the canadian women celebrated their victory? Men's teams have been celebrating this way for years.

You mean chicks celebrating with beer and cigars has been officially declared controversial. Gosh we did that in college... And you're in luck -- Games wraps Sunday...

I usually don't react strongly to silly show ideas, but I've really been offended by all those commercials during the Olympics for this Seinfeld show, The Marriage Ref.

It's bad enough that they are paying big $$ to famous people who can't even keep a handle on their own marriages (hello, Alec Baldwin?); but do we really need to watch them sitting around judging people who can't afford to throw money at their problems?

Who do they think they are? Needless to say, I will NOT be tuning in. Honestly, this and the Leno/Conan thing really makes me think NBC is becoming self-serving and not thinking about what the public "wants". More shows like "Lost" (go ABC!) and less contrived, snarky reality shows, PLEASE!

I'm sorry to break it to you, Pookie, but "Lost" doesnt' do anywhere near the kind of numbers that some of these reality series are clocking. And "Lost" is an extremely expensive show. Maybe not the best example, but I take your point. And I think the idea of going Alec Baldwin for marriage advice is supposed to be meta-ironic. And Madonna too -- they've asked Madonna to be one of the marriage advisers. That's just flat out hilarious.

Haeley Vaughn has got to go! She is soooo irritating...what did they see in her? Tracey Chapman and Tiny Tim's love child on crack! YIKES...think she'll last?

But she's so darned CUTE! I know, I hate cute too..

Do you know who got voted off the show last night? I missed it trying to watch all of the Olympic coverage. Are you a fan of this season's Survivor?

I confess I have not caught up with this season of "Surrivor" yet but Randy got booted -- the first villain to have his torch extinguished this edition..

I'll leave the usual complaints about NBC's Olympic Coverage at the door, but if you were at the Olympics, which sports would you want to cover?

Curling, for sure. I'm obsessed with curling.

In an early episode of "Seinfeld," Jerry tried to date a girl who worked at the law firm of Sagman, Bennett, Robbins, Oppenheim and Taft. On the "Deep End" there is a lawyer named Bennett who works for Sterling, Huddle, Oppenheim and Craft. It scares me that I know this...

That is simultaneously impressive and horrifying.  Is this just a fluke or are you a fount of impressive/horrifying factoids about TV like this?

How great is 30 Days of Oscar on TCM? My DVR has been working overtime!

It is a treat every year...

Since I've been watching the Olympics the past two weeks, my DVR is now full of stuff I usually watch in a timely manner. This is on top of the stuff I recorded months ago but haven't gotten around to watching yet... I'm so screwed... I don't know what to do.

Welcome to my hell. I have watched so much more Games coverage this time around than I had in the past many years. I discovered there were winter sports that I did not even know existed. And who knew about the Bobsledding Heinie Cam -- fantastic! But I too have paid a high cost. My DVR is bulging with programming I have to get to... I'm in for a marathon weekend...

Girl-watching has never been more um, interesting.

I think I noticed that necklines plunged first (at least more widely) on television a few years ago, but seems to me to have been followed to a greater extent than before by women everywhere--old and young, endowed or not. Lisa Edelstein is a great example of the "Grand Canyon" look.

So what came first in your view--plunging necklines on TV, or did TV follow what so many women wanted to do anyway? Did women discover that they distract men enough to equalize men's otherwise dominating tendencies with their body language? It works, I'll tell you that.

Holy Cow this is a deep question. I think it's all part of that "Oldest Profession" conversation you should have had with your parents when you were entering your teens. But yes, I think there has been a ratcheting up of the cleavage on TV -- including TV News in many markets, though, ironically, the Dowdy Look still prevails at the network level, at least on the evening newscasts. I was at a Discovery Communications screening of its new "Life" miniseries last night and there swas some blonde from "90210" on the red carpet who just kept bending over so the photogs could get a good cleavage shot -- which was pretty hilarious at a red carpet for a BBC-shot nature documentary...

Do you think maybe some writers will rethink naming goofball characters "Screech" and "Boner"?.... this seems to put a cloud over these young actors that can get pretty dark.

Absolutely. Child Services should be called in whenever a child is cast in a sitcom and the character is given the name "Boner." That said, I'm not sure this sad story would have had a different ending, had the character been named "David" or "Rich." The whole child-acting thing in Hollywood is a pretty treacherous thing for children....

Is it possible they can all be voted off...this has to be the worst group ever...and THESE are the best singers in (tone-deaf) America?!?

I take issue with this. I think there are a couple good chick singers. Siobhan is fantastic, for instance... I can't think of the others, but I got four hours sleep last night.

Pookie, will NBC ever realize that people on the West Coast want to see the Olympics live?

So long as the numbers keep going up, that is not going to happen. Silly, isn't it?

I enjoyed the season finale, which tied up a lot of threads and showed big changes in the characters' lives, but I certainly hope it wasn't meant as a wrap-up to the whole show. Will it be back, and if so, how soon?

No, "Men" did well and the network has already announced they've picked it up for another season.

With the new judge line-up and Simon leaving, it seems the handwriting is on the wall-from boring to bad. What can they do to save the show next year?

First thing they have to do is get rid of Ellen. She adds nothing except time to the show. Kara is more interesting to listen to this season and Randy has somehow expanded his vocabulary by a factor of 3 and has interesting things to say, but they need that strong lead judge and I don't know who's out there who can fill his shoes. Let's face it, "Idol" is now a mature show and it's downhill from here..

During the Olympics, CBS has been showing the original "CSI" at 10pm on Thursdays. Could this be a trial before switching it permanently to that time. Considering the content, I'm not sure how they got away with airing it at 9 o'clock anyway.

I think there is a concerted effort going on at CBS to boost the sampling of Laurence Fishburne on "CSI." He got off to a rocky start and the show is too important to let that go. I don't know specifically what this move is about but  "CSI" at 10 gets it out of the way of some competition -- no Fox network on at that hour, for instance. Remember, recently CBS slapped Fishburne on every "CSI" show all week? He went to Miami and New York and was also in Vegas.. I think it's all part of the same project..

Canadians and hockey. Canadians and beer. Hockey and beer. Who knew?

Anyway, I think I would rather have watched that post-victory party than 90% of the games themselves.

Sounds like I missed quite the party on NBC's coverage. Chicks with beer -- who knew that would be a big deal?!

Just discovered this new show and I LOVE it. How is it doing? How long does the season last?

It's doing very well even though they took Chris Noth out of jail which reduces his "hot" factor by about 15 percent. On the bright side, they're adding Alan Cummings to the show in a guest gig we hope becomes more permanent -- he's playing Noth's campaign manager. And, finally: The broadcast TV season ends in May.

Is there any chance that this fantastically funny show will be renewed? Or will it remain in network limbo until someone finally takes it out of its misery to cancel? I don' t know why ABC won't add it to their Wednesday night comedy block with Modern Family.

Sorry Pookie -- this one's toast....

How great is she? Where can I find her during the 3 years and 11 months that are non-Olympic?

She's also a tennis analyst for ESPN and I hear she's a correspondent for Bryant Gumbel's HBO sports show.  But really, did you SEE her doing the Royal Canadian Mounted Police thing? I guess that could have been worded better. But anyway, did you see it? Does TV get any more corny and awful than that. It was like something out of the 50s...

Why would any casting director think of putting Christian "I Kill Shows" Slater in a tv show? He did a good Jack in "Heathers," but other than that? Terrible.

He's now been in two dreadful shows: "The Forgotten" and "My Own Worst Enemy." One more and we've got a trend story...

The Divine Ms. deM: Your reply to my earlier question mentioned Jerry's latest effort. He's a brilliant comedian, but am I alone in thinking if anybody else had come up with this idea, it wouldn't get past an NBC short-term intern? (Why not let Baldwin and Seinfeld just talk for an hour - that should work great for a few months)

You are absolutely right. But since Seinfeld has demonstrated he can make a show about nothing be hilarious, of course they're going to give him a shot at this. If NBC were in better shape, maybe not, but NBC is desperate for a hit..

When will "My Boys" be coming back? Actually, I've never seen "My Boys" and therefore didn't know that it had gone away, but it seems really important to know when it's coming back.

Hooray! I'm safe for another week! I can now jay walk and walk under ladders! It's coming back in 2010!!! For Nine Episodes!!!!!!!

I was hoping that at least by canceling Leno, FNL would slide into the 10PM spot finally. Any idea when it will be back (for us non-DirecTV people?)

Friday, April 30, according to our Why is Friday Night Lights Stil on NBC bureau chief  Emily Yahr...

saw genius again when I rewatched Arrested Devleopment on IFC last night and the lawyer (played by Henry Winkler) jumped over a shark lying on a pier. (Fonzie juming the shark, ahhhh genius)

Not at all out of context. We're serious students of television here...

So who wins? And does anyone really care?

Somewhere out there, there are 23 year old chicks who care -- a lot. Me -- not so much. Anybody out there on our chat care? Anybody going to watch?

No, it's not supposed to be 'meta' anything--it's FUNNY!!!

That too. It is hilarious the idea of Jerry Seinfeld --aka The Wife Stealer -- Alec Baldwin, Madonna, et al, giving marriage advice is just lol...

OK, we get about eight professional curling teams across the nation and test the games on ESPN 2 and, if it takes off, maybe it would give us a winter sport between football and baseball....Sorry, just thinking out loud,

And everyone has to wear those cute short skirts. Okay, the guys can wear kilts. but the short skirts for the chick teams are mandatory...

Wait--what? Please do elaborate.

Did you miss Heinie Cam? I think NBC borrowed it from CBS, which brings it out of the closet every year for the Victoria Secret Fashion Show. During the bobsledding competition I watched, they had one camera trained at the starting position on the heinie of the person who does the pushing and then jumps into the back of the bobsled, puts his or her head down and prays... It reminged me of that shot in "Bridget Jones's Diary" when she is coming down the poll in the firehouse with the camera positioned right under her, filming her as she slid down... anyway, it was riveting Olympics coverage..

How does it happen that after auditioning thousands of contestants across the US, bringing a couple hundred to Hollywood, the show ends up with 12, or 24, or whatever who are boring, marginally talented, run of the mill singers? At this point I don't think any of them are going to be a major star and don't care either.

Really and truly I think the problem is that this year most of the 24 are genuine rookies and they were terrified at the prospect of performing live on national TV.. That's my story and I'm sticking with it...

Tiger Woods had 13 mistresses, one week each for a 13 week miniseries. This may save NBC!

Okay, that is nothing but brilliant. Hope someone from NBC is on this chat. They could use a great mind like yours...

I assumed Mary Carillo didn't think up this feature all by herself. Wouldn't some producer have assigned it to her, and the alternative to following orders would've been Carillos'possible imminent unemployment?

I don't think ESPN and HBO would have fired her and I'm just guessing she makes more working for those networks than you and I combined. I would have forgiven the segment had it actually been, you know, funny. And why did they assume I didn't want to actually hear something about the RCMP? Why did it have to be all about her and the RCMP were forced to become her props...

I would say I'm a fount of horrifying factoids. Here's another: Before joining Stalag 13 in Hogan's Heroes, Sgt. Shultz's previous job was as a toy manufacturer.

You must participate in our chat every week. We will make you our Fun Factoid Bureau Chief

Here is a clue to how the season has been going: Entertainment Weekly called the reunion show, where the ousted Bachelorettes come back "Skanks for the Memories."

I clearly need to reconnect with this show...

Christian Slater has nothing on Linday Price. 90210, Coupling (lousy NBC version of a great BBC sitcom), Eastwick... what others am I missing?

She was also on "Lipstick Jungle." I actually like her a lot. She just picks lousy shows. She'd be great in "Grey's Anatomy" but instead they went with that other chick from "Lipstick Jungle" with the crooked nose..

How about a curling cleavage-cam? Then have the match winners celebrate by sliding around on the ice while smoking cigars and guzzling beer. Ratings magic!

I'm frankly surprised Dick Ebersol didn't think of  that already. He's usually all over stuff like that...

I agree that Mary is fantastic but I think she is tragically wasted on the NBC late night show. Four years ago, she hosted an excellent figure skating show during the Torino games. She is a regular correspondent on HBO's Real Sports, and you don't want to miss any tennis match when she is paired in the booth with her former mixed doubles partner, John McEnroe.

Okay, you had me at "former mixed doubles partner John McEnroe. I will be sure to watch the next tennis match in which she's paired in the booth with him. I want to see her doing something she's good at -- not being forced to play The Fool for Ebersol...

Just like ITV replaced "Pop Idol" with "The X Factor," FOX should just end AI's run when the American version of "The X Factor" debuts. There's no way AI can survive without Simon Cowell. None. He's the show. Not Ryan, not Randy, and obviously not Paula, Kara or Ellen.

You are preachign to the choir....

I don't recommend this to everyone, but I finally wondered what "Lost" was all about. I rented season 1, watched it, find it interesting, and would up watching all five seasons just before the start of this season. I must say, I don't know how anyone can possibly keep all these characters and situations straight through all these past few years. I am just glad I watched them all recently.

Holy cow -- was your brain like cheese curd when this marathon was over? I am in awe of your stamina...

Be honest, Pookie: what was your opinion of the Hannah Storm outfit that got our beloved Tony K. suspended from Pardon the Interrupton? Anyone that equates Ms. Storm to the Catcher in the Rye should be promoted, not suspended!

I cannot comment.... I have yet to see the outfit. Seriously.

"The Philanthropist." A smart, engaging, adventure that deserves a second chance in one of those 10 PM slots! (Disclosure: I'm part of a Facebook group that thinks this show should be brought back.)

I admire your passion but that is not going to happen.

I am neither the person who submits every week, nor a PR flack, but I do read this chat every week and adore it, so that counts for something.

I LOVE My Boys and can't figure out for the life of me (1) why they bring it back for weird less-than-half seasons and (2) why they won't release seasons subsequent to the first on DVD. It's taking up precious DVR space and they keep accidentally getting deleted (along with my other favorite cancelled shows, Better off Ted, Samantha Who, etc. At least Lipstick Jungle is on hulu...).

Can you explain either of these phenomena?

I confess I was not aware they were so far behind on DVD releases. I will look into it. The tiny next season order is a resoundingly tepid vote of confidence for the show on the part of the network...

It always cracks me up to see an attorney in court or a physician roaming around the hospital with a tight, low cut sweater and a push-up bra. That just doesn't happen.

Ah -- you haven't spent any time in Los Angeles, I take it?

Or does the new Parenthood on NBC look exactly like ABC's Modern Family?

No, it's not just you. The original "Parenthood" pilot was pretty dark. Then, sadly, Maura Tierney was diagnosed with cancer and they wound up having to hold the show to re-cast her role and re-shoot her episiodes. In the interim, "Modern Family" debuted and everyone, including NBC suits, took note of its success. Many people are equating the lightening up of  "Parenthood" with "Modern Family's" ratings success. I'm out of time. Thanks for joining me. Bye.

In This Chat
Lisa de Moraes
Pulitzer Prize winner, Peabody recipient, Medal of Freedom honoree -- Lisa de Moraes is none of these, but she is an authority on the bad direction, over-acting, and muddled plot lines being played out in the TV industry's executive suites. de Moraes worked for a decade as the television editor at The Hollywood Reporter, the entertainment industry trade paper, where she was routinely on the receiving end of more shouting phone calls from TV suits than Paula Abdul's manager.

When she upgraded to The Washington Post in 1998, a well-known executive producer called to suggest she have someone else start her car, but her trenchant writing (and refusal to use words like "trenchant") earned her the following praise from the brilliant, handsome media observer at Slate: "She writes like a wicked bitch." Wikipedia has called her "a noted television columnist," but they're often unreliable.

It's pronounced "deh more ICE."

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